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Old 06-02-2011, 08:33 AM   #1
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Stand-alone Dictionaries & Encyclopedias?

There are a number of excellent Dictionaries and Encyclopedias available for the MobiPocket reader, from which I'm a reluctant refugee to the Kindle Android Reader. I've NOT found such a good selection of Encyclopedias in the Kindle Store, and the Dictionaries I've tried (as trials) on my Kindle Reader for Android did not allow me to navigate or search properly. They were useless, even though they were described as being for the Kindle Android platform.

Can anyone please tell me if the Kindle devices themselves are able to properly able to navigate and search external (i.e., non-built-in) Dictionaries and/or Encyclopedias? I don't own a Kindle device, and don't plan to, as I'm really enjoying carrying and keeping up with only once device for a change. I'm generally very pleased with the Kindle Android Reader but am curious to learn if the navigation limitations are specific to the Kindle Android Reader or to the entire Kindle platform. It would be odd if the limitations were general, as the Kindle file-format is the same as Mobipocket's (minor DRM difference noted).

While I appreciate the recent addition of a built-in dictionary on the Kindle Android Reader, I like to be able to open a dictionary like any other book, not just as a definition look-up from within another book.

I posted here as I assume users of the actual Kindle devices would have sorted this issue. Many thanks.
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Old 06-02-2011, 12:46 PM   #2
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So far, software Kindles (including the one for Android) do not support the mobi dictionary format. You need a hardware Kindle for that. I've been nagging Amazon from time to time to fix this in their software Kindles. Some people believe that Amazon intentionally makes its software Kindles less attractive than the "real" Kindles.

Android Kindle was recently updated to allow the pop-up feature of an included dictionary but that's it. You can't even have a dictionary look-up in the included dictionary and you can't use your own as a default dictionary.

I am as frustrated as you are because I love dictionaries and I've been making some of my own mobi dictionaries.

Last edited by osnova; 06-02-2011 at 12:50 PM.
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Old 06-02-2011, 12:55 PM   #3
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The only reference work I'm familiar with on the Kindle is the New Oxford American Dictionary.

I use this as my normal lookup dictionary, but it can also be opened just like any other book on the Kindle. It has an active table of contents (but a very limited one: "About this book", "Key to Abbreviations", "Dictionary A - Z", etc). You can browse through the pages, just like any other book. You can also search, follow hyperlinks, add notes and highlights, and do all the other things you would do with a normal book.

I assume other dictionaries and encyclopedias work in the same way, but I have no direct experience of them.
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Old 06-02-2011, 12:58 PM   #4
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Yes, on a "real" Kindle you can open a dictionary just like any other book.
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Old 06-02-2011, 01:27 PM   #5
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Thanks for the reply. You've confirmed my own research, alas. If I understand you aright, the Mobipocket Concise Encyclopedia Britannica would be useable and searchable on a hardware Kindle, but for the deliberate DRM difference?

I used Mobipocket for years, and then noticed that features began being quietly dropped from both the Mobipocket Reader Desktop and from the eNews Creator. Lo and behold, Amazon had purchased Mobipocket! Was something up? You bet, and we know what it was.

It's been a serious irritation to have purchased quality dictionaries and encyclopedia from Mobipocket only to later find that not only is the Mobipocket reader no longer actively supported (i.e., no Android or iPhone versions), but that there was a deliberate and incomprehensible decision to alter the file DRM format (by a single byte, I understand) so as to prevent Mobipocket books from being read on the Kindle (and related readers). Why? I don't get it. It would have seemed a natural segue to preserve compatibility instead of destroying it and thus seamlessly encourage Mobipocket customers to migrate to Kindle. Mobipocket had (and still does) have a nicely liberal policy of allowing books to be shared between several registered devices. Why couldn't a Kindle or Kindle Reader been one of those devices?

Overall, I'm really happy w the Kindle Android Reader, and the new built-in dictionary is very nice. I still wonder if there might be a back door way to substitute a different one, however (as a built-in, that is). I know there's a way to do that with the Kindle devices. Your reply suggests not, but perhaps? I've looked for the file corresponding to the built-in Kindle Reader dictionary, but haven't located it. Know where it is and its name?

If the Android Reader let me specify Left-justification I'd be happy enough (dictionary and encyclopedia gripes withstanding). But, whereas I've seen ways to manipulate the Kindle reader.pref file, I find no equivalent on the Android Reader.

But, the general trend with Kindle seems to be overall in the right direction. They seem to be dropping the prices on the devices themselves (as they should) to gain market share. Then they could focus on selling ebooks at reasonable prices. Rather like the old give-away razors. The money was made on the replacement blades. Hopefully Amazon will figure that out sooner than later.

Quote:
Originally Posted by osnova View Post
So far, software Kindles (including the one for Android) do not support the mobi dictionary format. You need a hardware Kindle for that. I've been nagging Amazon from time to time to fix this in their software Kindles. Some people believe that Amazon intentionally makes its software Kindles less attractive than the "real" Kindles.

Android Kindle was recently updated to allow the pop-up feature of an included dictionary but that's it. You can't even have a dictionary look-up in the included dictionary and you can't use your own as a default dictionary.

I am as frustrated as you are because I love dictionaries and I've been making some of my own mobi dictionaries.
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Old 06-02-2011, 01:38 PM   #6
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Mike,

Sounds like even the hardware Kindle is lacking in the nice search functionality I was used to on the Mobipocket versions. In the Britannica, for example, you could look up by article or word, I recall, and it was a speedy and accurate search. That is not the case, if I understand correctly, with the Kindle?
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Old 06-03-2011, 07:07 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RMOP View Post
Sounds like even the hardware Kindle is lacking in the nice search functionality I was used to on the Mobipocket versions.
Just to be clear .....

On the real Kindle, you can place the highlight against any word in any book. This will trigger a lookup in the default dictionary. In this point, you are not opening the dictionary as a book. The definition (or whatever) is displayed at the foot of the screen.

If you explicitly open the dictionary as a book (for example, from the Home screen), you can search for headwords and "see also" references, but you can't search for words in the body of a definition (as far as I can see).

I don't know about the Mobi Pocket reader, as I don't have any dictionaries installed for it. But in the Kindle for PC application, you can highlight a word and view the definition in a popup window. You then have the option of opening the dictionary at the definition. At that point, you can search the dictionary just like any other book, and also look up words that are themselvs in the body of the definition. (This only applies to the most recent versions of the application.)
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Old 06-03-2011, 09:30 AM   #8
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Mike,

Interesting. On my Kindle Android Reader, highlighting any word in any book will also trigger a dictionary lookup and a pop-up definition is then displayed. There's then an option to enter the full dictionary for the larger definition. Doing so then takes you into the the dictionary just as if you'd opened it as a stand-alone book (which can't be done w the built-in dictionary, AFAIK). However, the only available search feature is not restricted to dictionary entries, but rather effects a clueless ramble through the entire text.

Example: a search for "abet" (w/o quotes) yields dozens and dozens of results, nearly all of which are instances of the search string within other words which themselves occur within the text of other definitions: (...forms of a letter of an alphabet or other grapheme.)

Well down in the list the actual dictionary entry for the word "abet" does occur, but only incidental to the broader search and you'd never be able to look up a single word of interest this way. The same behavior, BTW, is displayed when using an external dictionary or encyclopedia.

So, the Kindle hardware can't search for text strings within the body of dictionary definitions but the software can't do anything but that. A bit like Jack Spratt and wife. Clearly, for a dictionary, the search is working properly on the hardware but not the software reader. But, the problem is obviously intrinsic to the software reader itself, not to the book proper. I'll hope that the developers will notice this and fix the reader to conform with convention.

Last edited by RMOP; 06-03-2011 at 09:34 AM.
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Old 06-03-2011, 02:35 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RMOP View Post
So, the Kindle hardware can't search for text strings within the body of dictionary definitions
There is a way around that. If you identify the mobi dictionary as a regular book (not a dictionary) in its metadata, then you will preserve the word search functionality and will still have the article headword index in the "Menu". However, you won't be able to use such a dictionary as a default dictionary.
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Old 06-03-2011, 03:09 PM   #10
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But, if I understand your first reply, this would only work on a hardware Kindle, not with the software readers. So, for now, the ONLY dictionary lookup available to me is via the built-in dictionary from within another book.
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Old 08-24-2011, 01:55 PM   #11
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Sorry for the late response. Yes, "the ONLY dictionary lookup available to me is via the built-in dictionary from within another book." Software Kindles are "crippled" in this regard.
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Old 08-24-2011, 04:49 PM   #12
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You can use other dictionaries, at least on Kindle 4 PC, which identifies the dictionaries by their ASIN. So DeDRMing a mobipocket dictionary and then changing it's ASIN does the trick, the label displayed in Kindle 4 PC is stil the original one though. If you don't change the ASIN, the dictionary can be seen in your library, so you can have 2 instances of the same dictionary, one for look up from a book, one in your library. I didn't try this trick with Kindle android.
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Old 09-01-2011, 03:01 PM   #13
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You can use other dictionaries, at least on Kindle 4 PC, which identifies the dictionaries by their ASIN. So DeDRMing a mobipocket dictionary and then changing it's ASIN does the trick, the label displayed in Kindle 4 PC is stil the original one though. If you don't change the ASIN, the dictionary can be seen in your library, so you can have 2 instances of the same dictionary, one for look up from a book, one in your library. I didn't try this trick with Kindle android.
Could you explain this a bit more or at least point to where I can read about it? Is the changing ASIN an attempt to fool the software Kindle into thinking that the new dictionary is the standard Amazon dictionary?
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Old 09-01-2011, 04:45 PM   #14
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Could you explain this a bit more or at least point to where I can read about it? Is the changing ASIN an attempt to fool the software Kindle into thinking that the new dictionary is the standard Amazon dictionary?
I made a thread about it : http://www.mobileread.com/forums/sho...t=dictionaries .
What I did for example, and it worked in K4PC 1.6 :
- got the Duden through Kindle 4 PC, it will automatically download when you try to get the definition in a book with the language metadata set to German
- use a tool (I don't remember which) to get the ASIN from this dictionary (the dictionary can be found in the normal library directory : "My Kindle Content" directory, and it's easily spotted as usually you don't have many ~20MB files)
- buy a German -> French dictionary from mobipocket.com, and DeDRM it
- set its ASIN with the one found in the 2nd step
- close K4PC if it's started
- move the original Duden dictionary away from the "My Kindle Content" directory
- move the new dictionary to the "My Kindle Content" directory
- start K4PC and that's it : it shouldn't list the dictionary in your library, but when you're looking for a definition in a book with the correct language metadata (i.e german in my case), it will get the translation from my mobipocket dictionary.

To sum up if the program finds the american english meta-data language in the book you're reading, it will look for a dictionary with a given ASIN, same for the other 2 languages, so far the program has 3 dictionaries pre-set. Get the ASIN from one of them, put it in your dictionary, and your books with the given language meta-data will open your dictionary.

Note that the program doesn't display the 3 pre-set dictionaries in your library, if you want to make them appear, just change their ASIN. You can have 2 copies of the same dictionary : one with the correct ASIN used for instant lookup and one to use as a normal dictionary / book in your library.
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Old 09-06-2011, 07:28 PM   #15
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[snip]
- use a tool (I don't remember which) to get the ASIN from this dictionary
[snip]
- set its ASIN with the one found in the 2nd step
[snip]
I successfully used Mobi2Mobi GUI v0.09VB a Visual Basic frontend to Mobi2Mobi v0.0.41
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